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Hospitality Defined: Durham’s Restaurant Owners Give Back

Three Durham business owners tell us how they created inventive programs to feed those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted By Kristin Bedinger on Nov 27, 2023

In October 2023, Discover Durham hosted our first annual event since before the COVID-19 pandemic. These events are typically all business – with maybe a little fun – and geared toward our local stakeholders in Durham. We talk about the work we’ve done over the last year, share our research-based findings, reveal our annual Tourism Impact Report and advocate for the hospitality community.

This year, we wanted to go beyond the usual talk about the impacts of tourism in our community and further messaging about the jobs, career opportunities and culture that make the hospitality sector vital to our community. It was time to look back at the extraordinary and selfless efforts by dozens of Durham restaurants and business amid unprecedented uncertainty. We recognized the many businesses who contributed to efforts to deliver meals to hospital workers, produced hand sanitizer and participated in programs like Durham Delivers, which allowed residents to keep their dollars local, all while pivoting operations and navigating changing health and safety protocols.

We also highlighted three impactful, hospitality-driven COVID programs in a video tribute featuring Tre Tapp, owner of The Chicken Hut; Dorian Bolden, owner of Beyu Caffé - Boxyard RTP and founder of Beyu Food Project; and Grant Ruhlman, owner of Homebucha and one of the organizers behind Durham Free Lunch. In the video above, you’ll learn how these three programs were designed to provide free meals to anyone who needed them, no questions asked. When Tre, Dorian and Grant learned that school cafeterias were closing and people were out of work, they stepped up to serve without hesitation. Via generous support from customers and the broader community, these efforts succeeded in feeding thousands, creating a lifeline for those who needed it most.

As you’ll hear in the video, this type of service embodies Durham, and many other businesses stepped in to contribute to the cause. Farmers who weren’t able to sell their produce to restaurants donated it in support of these efforts; restaurants contributed ingredients, time and meals. This type of collaboration, creativity and generosity defines hospitality, particularly in Durham, and makes it an essential part of our community.

About the Author

Kristin Bedinger - Sr. Manager of Content
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Lover of plants, books, wine, cooking for my friends and hanging with my pup, Arlo. Find me trying every new bar and restaurant in Durham the moment it opens.